New Delhi, May 28
The Delhi High Court has directed water authority Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to expeditiously finalise the tender for hiring specially fabricated machines to collect, transport and dispose of septic tank waste from unsewered or unauthorised colonies in the national capital.
Justice Navin Chawla issued the direction saying the work involved is of public interest and “more needed” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order came after the Delhi Jal Board told the court that tender was to be awarded in March 2020, but due to the pandemic, the work could not be awarded.
“As the work involved is of public interest and in fact, more needed during the period of COVID-19 pandemic, the respondent 2 (DJB) is directed to finalise the said tender as expeditiously as possible,” the court said.
The direction was issued on a plea alleging that the waste collected by the government agencies or its licensees from septic tanks in Najafgarh area in west Delhi is discharged into Najafgarh drain and subsequently released into Yamuna river without being treated.
The petitioner, a resident of Najafgarh, has stated that the area did not have any sewerage or water connection, and in the absences of sewerage lines, the residents have installed septic tanks of varying sizes in their households.
The septic tanks were being cleaned either by hiring the licensees or operators deployed by the government authorities or the unlicensed private operators, the petition said.
The petitioner also told the court that DJB had granted licenses under the Delhi Water Board Septage Management Regulations, 2018, for collection and disposal of sewage in their area.
However, the DJB has not specified the area to be covered by such licensees and it is difficult for the residents to insist on such licensees to perform their duties and thus, have to take services of unlicensed persons who then go ahead and dispose of the sewage in open drains and ‘nalhas’.
The DJB told the court that there was a committee set up under the said regulations to deal with such issues and the responsibility should not be laid only upon it.
After hearing all the submissions, the court further directed that the committee set up under the said regulations shall hold an urgent meeting, within a week, to discuss the issues raised by the petitioner and address the same.
The committee was also directed to carry out surprise inspections of the area in question and submit, in form of an affidavit, a status report which shall also contain steps taken by it to ensure the regulations are complied with in true letter and spirit.
The DJB was directed to consider if the licenses granted by it can specify the area of operation of each particular licensee and whether the information can be advertised in that particular area.
“This shall ensure that responsibility is easily put on a particular licensee in case a violation is found in a particular area and also the residents in that area are able to easily know which licensee they need to approach and hold responsible for their area,” the court said.
It directed DJB to file a report within four weeks indicating compliance of the court’s orders and listed the matter for further hearing on June 29. PTI
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